Fall Preview: LGBT characters on the small screen

Both offer plenty to look forward to when their new seasons launch this fall. In addition to gay teen Kurt, out actor Jane Lynch and music to die for — dubbed “the holy trifecta of gayness” by Mediaweek’s Alan Frutkin — “Glee” will offer up more about Kurt’s relationship with his father and the struggles gay teens face to fit in.

Modern Family” will finally see a smooch between gay dads Cam and Mitchell, which producers insist was planned all along and not the result of an ardent Facebook campaign.

Along with these two standouts, gay and lesbian supporting characters are widespread on network television, although there remains a dearth of gay lead characters — as well as a dearth of lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters overall.

“I’m disappointed that since a show like ‘Will & Grace,’ we haven’t seen shows emerge with strong gay characters at the center. Why aren’t they the leading men and leading women on the shows?” gay producer Max Mutchnick, who brought us “Will & Grace,” recently told Mediaweek.

Cable networks continue to lead the way on LGBT inclusion, with MTV earning the first “excellent” rating ever on the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s recent Network Responsibility Index, an analysis of how often LGBT characters appear.

GLAAD won’t release its analysis of the 2010 fall season until late September or October, but GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said the group will be looking not only at totals for LGBT characters, but also at the stories they tell.

“We have to be concerned not just with the numbers of LGBT images, but with how we are portrayed,” Barrios says. “Are we confirming stereotypes or really breaking through to America about what is possible?”

As usual in the past few years, you can also expect plenty of gay people integrated as one-time guests on home and garden reality series on networks like TLC and HGTV.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the shows of particular LGBT interest this season:

The Closer” (New episodes already airing, 9 p.m. Mondays on TNT):  Coroner Dr. Morales is gay.

Rupaul’s Drag U” (New episodes already airing, 9 p.m. Mondays on LOGO): Hosted by drag icon RuPaul, who got his start dancing on a go-go box in Atlanta.

Weeds” (New episodes already airing, 10 p.m. Mondays on Showtime): Stars Mary Louis Parker, a lesbian favorite since she starred in “Fried Green Tomatoes,” characters include a lesbian drug dealer.

Flipping Out” (New episodes already airing, 9 p.m. Tuesdays on Bravo): Reality series focuses on OCD-prone real estate mogul Jeff Lewis and his kooky staff.

Project Runway” (New episodes already airing, 9 p.m. Thursdays on Lifetime): This season of the gay-favorite design competition includes several out designers.

On the Road with Austin & Santino” (New episodes already airing, 10:30 p.m. Thursdays on Lifetime): “Project Runway” alums Austin Scarlett and Santino Rice — described as “out and outlandish” by GLAAD — travel to small towns.

Shameless” (New episodes already airing, 9 p.m. Fridays on Sundance): Two gay characters including a gangster’s gay son.

True Blood” (Now airing, season finale on Sept. 12, 9 p.m. Sundays on HBO): From gay creator Alan Ball, includes gay drug dealer Lafayette and plenty of other homoerotic blood sucking

Entourage” (New episodes already airing, 10:30 p.m. Sundays on HBO): Supporting characters include gay assistant Lloyd.

Thintervention with Jackie Warner” (Premieres Sept. 6, airs 10 p.m. Mondays on Bravo): This new show with lesbian fitness guru Warner focuses less on her personal life than her previous series, “Work Out.”

America’s Next Top Model” (Premieres Sept. 8, airs 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CW): Bitchy judges, fabulous clothes, plenty of drama — what’s not to love for a gay TV fan?

Hellcats” (Premieres Sept. 8, airs 9 p.m. Wednesdays on CW): This new show about college cheerleading will include a “ballsy, fearless, and cheerfully profane” lesbian cheerleader in the mix, according to GLAAD.

90210” (Premieres Sept. 13, airs 8 p.m. Mondays on CW): In addition to bisexual Adrianna, Ted will come out as gay this season.

Gossip Girl” (Premieres Sept. 13, airs 9 p.m. Mondays on CW): Last season featured character Eric dating two men, including one who is bisexual. Will the storyline be as prominent this year?

Dancing with the Stars” (Premieres Sept. 20, airs 8 p.m. Mondays on ABC): This season’s contestants include queer-loving comedian Margaret Cho.

Rules of Engagement” (Premieres Sept. 20, airs 8:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS): Longing to be parents, Jeff and Audrey will chose a lesbian surrogate as CBS looks to beef up its gay character count after rating last in a GLAAD study.

Glee” (Premieres Sept. 21, airs 8 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox): Jane Lynch, a gay teen who will get increased focus this year, and songs you’ll be singing all the next day.

Modern Family” (Premieres Sept. 22, airs 9 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC): Gay adoptive dads Cam and Mitchell add diversity to this show, which will include a gay kiss and more guest appearances from flamboyant actor Nathan Lane.

Law & Order: SVU” (Premieres Sept. 22, airs 9 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC): Psychologist Dr. Hwang is gay and played by out actor B.D. Wong.

S#*! My Dad Says” (Premieres Sept. 23, airs 8 p.m. Thursdays on CBS): This new series based on the hilarious Twitter feed and blog will include a small gay role that could evolve into a “big loud gay presence,” out producer Max Mutchnick told MediaWeek.

Grey’s Anatomy” (Premieres Sept. 23, airs 9 p.m. Thursdays on ABC): In one of GLAAD’s most lauded shows, the 2009 season included lesbian couple Callie and Arizona grappling with issues like whether to have children.

Desperate Housewives” (Premieres Sept. 26, airs 9 p.m. Sundays on ABC): While not the gay must-watch it used to be, still includes gay characters and plenty of drama.

Brothers & Sisters” (Premieres Sept. 26, airs on 10 p.m. Sundays on ABC): Gay couple Scotty and Kevin are having a child via a surrogate; meanwhile, Uncle Saul will gain a boyfriend, TV Guide reports.

The Good Wife” (Premieres Sept. 28, airs 10 p.m. Tuesdays on CBS): We’ll meet the gay brother of Juliana Margulies’ character, Alicia, a CBS exec told TV Guide, but the sexuality of Kalinda will remain a mystery.

Real Housewives of Atlanta” (Premieres Oct. 4, airs 9 p.m. on Bravo): Atlanta’s bitchiest claim to fame is back, with new cast members Cynthia Bailey and Phaedra Parks. The season’s preview has already hit the internet, and yes, the claws are still out.

The A-List: New York” (Premieres Oct. 4, airs 10 p.m. Mondays on LOGO): The all-gay network debuts a reality show from the producers of “Real Houswives of Atlanta” about hunky gay men.


Sources for schedules: TVGuide.com, network websites

Top photo: We’ll learn more about gay teen Kurt’s relationship with his father in the new season of ‘Glee,’ which premieres Sept. 21, left (Photo via Facebook). This season’s contestants on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ include queer-loving comedian Margaret Cho. (Photo via Facebook)